Loved for her songs “Kill For You” and “Come Around” amongst countless others, Los Angeles-based singer Frex obtains a transparent and relatable approach to her songwriting that simultaneously draws listeners to the topics she explores.
She made waves upon the release of “Out The Blue” and 2017’s White Sun EP—a pivotal start in her artistry. After refining her sound, Frex reintroduced herself to the world through enchanting singles “History” and “Homebody,” subsequently followed by her debut offering Blu. The eight-song project, which boasts a lone feature from FIH, is a thoughtful reflection on themes of self-identity, love loss, and the feelings that encompass those emotions. She further cemented her presence with 2020’s “Come Around” and “Don’t Wait,” as well as “Slide” and “Kill For You” the following year.
With her recent situationship-inspired and R&B-tinged maxi-single Mixed Feelings, two songs created in 2019, Frex embraces her abilities and steps into the limelight as an exciting name to keep a lookout for. Both the titular track and “Love For Granted” are produced by frequent collaborator Godchild and serve as a warm welcome to the singer-songwriter. With her obsession with the early to mid-2000s R&B vibe—as well as Rock and Alternative—that groups singers and rappers like Rihanna, Ne-Yo, Usher, and Gorillaz, Frex pulls from a variety of music icons which is evident in her songs.
In our latest interview, Frex chats with us about developing her songwriting and vocal skills, inspirations, Mixed Feelings, and what young women can take away from her journey. Check out our conversation below.
Let’s start with an introduction. For anyone that’s not familiar with you or your songs, who is Frex? What characterizes you the most?
I’m a girl from a small town in Pennsylvania. I went to a Catholic school and rebelled against everything. I dropped out of college in Philly and moved to LA when I was 21. I’m a shy character—most people think I’m mean or something until they meet me and realize I’m actually just a little bit socially awkward. A big goof in reality. My music so far has been mellow and moody or hypnotic and groovy. I love a good bassline and drums that knock.
Did you grow up surrounded by music? How did you discover your talent for songwriting and develop your expressive vocals?
I’m not from a musical family. Although, my grandpa played piano and sang. I also recently learned my great-grandpa used to play the banjo along the Susquehanna River in Pennsylvania, which I thought was cool. My oldest brother also must’ve been an influence because he was in a band for a little bit and made like three songs, which I thought was crazy. I couldn’t even wrap my head around how music was recorded at the time, but this was like 2008 and I think that’s when recording equipment was just becoming more accessible to smaller artists.
Anyway, my brother got a new laptop and let me keep his old one, which had a few guitar loops he had played in GarageBand. I recorded myself singing over them through the laptop microphone. That was my first recorded song. I was probably like 10 or 11 at the time. Before that, I had always been singing, writing poems, and was always very intrigued by music. As time went on, I started playing acoustic guitar and making beats but ended up quitting for a few years for two reasons: I gave up on guitar when I couldn’t play a barre chord and the beats on Soundcloud were WAY better than anything I was making.
I started writing to beats I found on SoundCloud, which is where I ended up getting in contact with my long-time friend and collaborator, Godchild. I also started going to a “real” studio with an engineer, which is when I ended up making Blu. I think recording with an engineer really allowed me to get more comfortable with my voice and allowed me to try experimental sounds which I wouldn’t have been able to do on my own.
Who are some of your past and present musical inspirations?
My mom was always playing whatever was on MTV or VH1 in the early 2000s, so all of that music had a profound effect on me. Ne-Yo, T-Pain, The-Dream, Sean Paul, Gwen Stefani, Gorillaz, Rihanna, Norah Jones, Avril Lavigne, Ashely Simpson, Kelly Clarkson, Robin Thicke, Maroon 5, Usher. She also played her favorite oldies like Madonna, BeeGees, and Earth Wind & Fire.
My oldest brother in the band gave me his old laptop which had a lot of Rock and Alternative music on it. I listened to Death Cab For Cutie, Phoenix, Escape the Fate, The Used, Asking Alexandria, Saosin, Anthony Green, The Killers, Dance Gavin Dance, and so much more.
My other brother was always making mix CDs, which usually had a lot of rap on them like Snoop Dogg, Soulja Boy, Chingy, 50 Cent, Lil Wayne, and many more. My early inspirations were all over the place and I loved downloading artists’ discographies and listening to everything I possibly could. My list of inspirations goes on and on and on, but as far as current inspirations I would say Frank Ocean, The Weeknd, Don Toliver, Kenny Mason, Phabo, Kurtis Wells, Tierra Whack, Isaiah Rashad, Tay Iwar, and PartynextDoor. There are so many more though. These are people with projects I couldn’t stop listening to.
It’s been nearly four years since the release of your debut project, Blu, how have you grown as an artist since then?
Sheesh! Sometimes I forget people have only heard what I’ve released because I’m on the other side of it knowing everything I’ve made since Blu and everything I’m capable of. I think I recorded about 10 songs for Blu, and released 8 of those. Since then I’ve made somewhere close to 200+ songs. The amount of energy, hours, and research I’ve put into my craft since Blu is something that won’t go unnoticed.
I’ve gotten way better at writing and WAY better at singing. I’ve become more comfortable with my voice, and don’t always need so many layers or effects when recording. I’ve learned how to play guitar—even the barre chords—and am more comfortable with music theory. I’ve grown with Godchild, and we’ve had a countless number of sessions since Blu. I’ve educated myself by doing my research and listening to a bunch of older classics. I’ve stepped into my sense of fashion and started doing more research in that lane.
Most of all, I’ve learned so much about how the music industry works and what it’s really like to be an artist, even if it’s constantly changing. After all of that, I feel I’m finally ready to put myself out there in every sense.
Can you walk us through what your songwriting process is like? What experiences or emotions create some of your best music?
I like to sit with the producer and make the beat with them. While they’re building the beat, I’m building the words. Every producer I work with is also an engineer, so usually, I’ll put down some basic vocals while I’m there. I’ve been told I’m pretty picky when it comes to beats, and that’s why I hardly ever write to beats that are sent to me. I think that’s just a part of having a unique sound.
I think heartbreak or the feeling of being misunderstood have always been recurring themes in most of my music. I’ve always used music as an outlet for my pain, and if I can transmute that pain and perfectly capture what I’m feeling in the form of a song, I will be momentarily satisfied.
Recently though, I’ve been trying to talk less about lovers who do me dirty and talk more about myself. I think I’ve accepted my own role in my heartbreaks, which has been reflected in my recent unreleased music. It’s easier to talk about how much other people suck rather than talking about yourself, so I’ve recently challenged myself to be extremely single and see where that takes me in songwriting.
“Love For Granted,” one of your new singles, is a really beautiful record to say the least. What message did you want to get across with that song?
Thank you! At the time I was crushed over someone who didn’t want to be with me. I came to the studio crying for that one. I felt so overlooked and small at the time, and I just wanted to scream “DON’T TAKE MY LOVE FOR FUCKING GRANTED” from a mountaintop. I felt like I always loved so hard and it always went unappreciated. How could you not see or understand this sweet, sweet, super-special, phenomenal love I was willing to give you? Why do you keep fucking with me? That was the message.
Following the release of Mixed Feelings, what are you working on for the rest of the year?
I’m working on an album right now. All of the songs are done, it’s really just time to get features and visuals going. I need to decide who I will release it through. You’ve never heard anything like this from me. I’m also working on music for the project after that. I have a few collaborations with other artists in the work as well. I’d also like to get more performances going, in and outside of Los Angeles.
As a musician, songs can be relatable and quite therapeutic to the listener—what do you want young women to take away from your music and journey as a whole?
Stay true to yourself and your vision. I know that’s basic, but it’s true. Remember who you are and where you come from, because more than anything, people appreciate authenticity. People don’t want perfection, they want realness. Don’t do anything that doesn’t align with YOU. Don’t let anyone, especially men, try and tell you who YOU are. Get comfortable with saying no. Be your biggest cheerleader even when no one sees you.
Elsewhere in music, Chlöe unveils her latest musical offering “Treat Me” as she prepares for her debut album.